Petroleum-based plastic containers and bags are the smog of the 21st century. In recent years, the incredible harm to the planet done by plastic waste material has become a center stage issue in the environmental movement.
Plastic has been found polluting islands thousands of miles from where it was first used. It has been found in huge artificial floating dumps in the sea. Micro-plastics have even been found in humans.
Many communities have already outlawed plastic straws and throw-away plastic bags for shopping. This trend of banning unnecessary plastic products seems likely to continue until science finds ways to mitigate plastic pollution.
In the meantime, here are four easy ways to reduce your personal plastic consumption:
Stop purchasing new plastic items
So many plastic products are thrown away every day that second hand stores are clogged with them. Many are like new even at their second hand stage. This is because petroleum-based plastic thousands of years to degrade, and never really returns to a natural state. When you need a new set of measuring cups or spoons, a new set of unbreakable cups or glasses, or a new container for flour, sugar, cereal, rice, or tea, purchase one that has already been donated to a resale shop.
Buy in Bulk Whenever Possible
Many grocery stores are becoming more eco-friendly. Offering cereal, nuts, dry goods (flour, corn meal, sugar, yeast) and dried fruit for sale in bulk is becoming more common. This is the way people bought these items for hundreds of years, before the food industry started over-packaging nearly everything.
Grow Some of Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
If you are not already an amateur arborist, take advantage of the expertise available at your local garden center or nursery and plant a few fruit trees that are manageable for beginners. Once you taste the different between fresh picked fruits and vegetables, you may begin to wonder if the store-bought variety was packed in plastic or made of plastic.
Amass a Collection of Fabric and Recycled Shopping Bags
Keep the bags in your car at all times and take them with you when you grocery stop as well as when you do any other sort of shopping. Many people are already doing this as a matter of routine, and many grocery stores now offer small discounts to shoppers who bring their own bags.
Reducing your plastic consumption doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it might even improve the quality of your life.
- Emma Sturgis, the author of this post, is a freelance writer from Boston, MA